Tag Archives: Jay Rock

The case for Schoolboy Q as a top 3 lyricist in 2018

The case for Schoolboy Q as a top 3 lyricist in 2018

by Dan-O

I’m not doing the “he’s no Kool Moe Dee” all time argument with you Fuzzy Kangol Truthers. Save his place in history for later down the line right now we are talking about right now. The other thing to get out of the way is influence is not a factor. I don’t care that Trump did Hotline Bling on Saturday Night Live it doesn’t have anything to do with the power of the pen. Additionally, numbers don’t lie (they absolutely do) but they don’t have any bearing on this argument. That means this is subjective, right? Yes, not impossible.

Qualifying Criteria:

Consistency-People drive me nuts about this. Some MC’s are chasing the big moment and they always end up releasing terrible material eventually. Last year hip hop radio(looking at you Charlemagne) tried pushing the notion that Big Sean is one of the best MC’s in the game. Big Sean has two fabulous albums and two horrible ones. He is all over the place and I listen to everything he does. I like him but consistency matters, forethought matters. How many times you do you get to serve me a full bowl of wack and still be in the conversation?

Schoolboy Q is the opposite. Of his four albums he doesn’t have a disappointing one. All of them have different production identities, themes, and important lead singles that reflect Q at that stage of his career. As nasty and ready to turn on artists as Pitchfork is the last 3 albums scores Q has: 8.3, 7.8, and 8.4. If you are an album guy he consistently has got your back. If you don’t care about albums and just want the hits he feeds you Man of The Year, Studio, That Part, etc.

The four albums that are the core of TDE as an identity are probably: Kendrick- GKMC, Jay Rock-Follow Me Home, Schoolboy-Setbacks, Ab-Soul-Control System. Of those four artists Schoolboy is the only one who has kept pace with Kendrick in terms of albums you need to hear. Consistency isn’t about always working it’s about relentless careful smart work.

Content-John Muir(from Blank Face) has the most sumptuous neo-soul hook packed in against drug dealing at 14, close friends dying, danger closing in from all sides. The song is named after his high school and lasers in on that period. Meaningful content does not have to mean the smartest references or layered wordplay. The reason rappers always refer to their new album or song as a movie is because they want you , as the audience, to follow them through arc of the songs meaning. To the next one. Even  though Schoolboy knows people won’t pay that much attention the juxtaposition of the relaxing chorus and the ever present danger of verses is exactly the dichotomy of palm trees at 77 degrees and shocking violence that West Coast Gangsta Rap was built on. All of this to talk about and that is just one song. Schoolboy has a catalog that as you listen more each song gets deeper and gains meaningf. Q has struggled with addiction and let us hear it and now that he is beyond it (fingers crossed) we get even sharper bars. He builds every song on such a strong foundation he can add levels to it.

Durability-If you are a Schoolboy Q fan play this game with me. What is your favorite song? Pull it up on the tracklist of the album it is on. Is it the full throttle anthemic hip hop takeover Man Of The Year? If you are listening to the deluxe edition what is the next song? It’s the slow jangly mutilated but smooth (thanks to a brilliant hook performance by SZA) His & Her Fiend.  Schoolboy creates Juxtaposition everywhere. He places the crushingly personal John Muir before the bouncy West Coast celebration Big Body. His smoothest song Grooveline (with Dom Kennedy & Curren$y vibing out) comes right before his fire breathing dragon roar of a vocal performance on Gangsta in Designer (No Concept).  The juxtaposition creates tension yes but also dimension and he’s able to create that because he has tapped into the different facets of himself. Not to get too nerdy about this but if you go back to his 2009 mixtape Gangsta & Soul (You know my need to research forced my hand) his flow is totally different it is like listening to pre-Dre Eminem. He built this style and I appreciate his motor in refining it. His best album is his last album Blank Face.  Let’s talk more about this flow though…

Above & Beyond Attributes:

Tyson Flow-A knockout puncher has to make every connect count. Jabs just move the opponent to the right spot, Tyson was not even thinking about points on the scorecard. He was planting his victim in the right place for the right shot.That is how Schoolboy spits and always has. If you listen to the way his voice flings distasteful threats on the first verse of Dope Dealer from his 2016 album Blank Face  it is the same force he exerts on every line of Figg Get Da Money from 2011’s Setbacks.  Schoolboy says every word like a punk rock lead singer hitting their most jagged chorus.

Throw down mentality-The features on a Schoolboy Q album can get pretty interesting. Oxymoron Deluxe Edition(the only edition you should own) has Kendrick, 2 Chainz, Raekwon, Kurupt,SZA, Suga Free, Jay Rock, BJ The Chicago Kid, Tyler The Creator all along for the ride. Name another album that has 2 Chainz, Raekwon, and Suga Free spitting? The fearlessness in his flow has paid off to the point that Schoolboy fears none. This is where we say things like “being part of the best crew has given him the opportunity to be better as a lyricist,” I reject this. Ask Jae Millz how great his career growth has been behind Wayne, Dreezel Stillskin and the rest. It is HARD standing next to the dude who is considered the gold standard for bars. Q’s been doing it for ten years and gunning to a draw at the very least (I think he took Kendrick on Collard Greens) but he will throw bars with anyone and has. On Groovy Tony Jadakiss scorched the track so hard that Q added a whole other song behind the verse. He cares about the standard he has employed which is way more important than winning the song.

My conclusion is simple. I am not writing this because he has a new album coming and that could vault him into the “best in the game conversation” I hoped that this rant will prove he’s already there and this album will just be another leg of that journey.

 

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How audiomack links taught me to relax and embrace Dom Kennedy p.1

How audiomack links taught me to relax and embrace Dom Kennedy p.1

by Dan-O

The first thing I ever knew about LA MC Dom Kennedy was EVERYONE loves this guy. He features on SchoolBoy Q’s album, Freddie Gibbs mixtape, Smoke Dza takes time to rap about conversations with Dom that changed his life. Curren$y does the same on just about every project. Dom scores a Kendrick Lamar feature for the song We Ball off his Yellow Album mixtape that drops 4 months before Good Kid, Maad City. I just assumed this was one of those bad rappers who is also an awesome person and everyone loves…so they give him a verse. Why did I think of him as bad? His flow is outrageously stunted and off beat like an old parent remembering something in chunks and his verses are about things that don’t make any coherent picture (he loves rhyming the same word off itself over and over)…or didn’t until recently. Sometimes it takes time for me to understand the appeal of an artist and here are the projects that helped me with that.

From The Westside with Love

As much as Dom clearly looks up to the pimpish precision of DJ Quik he’s different. From The Westside with Love is one of the most affectionate mixtapes in the last five or ten years. All the production credits you’ll find for Dom Kennedy projects are ahead of their time. On this one the recognizable names, Hit Boy and BrandUn DeShay, are ones you wouldn’t have been that interested in circa 2010. This is part of the reason why all his mixtapes seem so crisp years later.

A Leimert Park Song provides exact explanation for the oddness of Dom. “The game need me cause this affectionate. Not just a bunch of N’s wanting Tech’s and shi#t. Not just a bunch of N’s wanting sex and sh#t. Dissing the same N’s that they texting with.” While he shouts out Ice Cube, 2pac and all the gods of West Coast he brings a warm and casual vibe to his music. On the opening track In Memory Of he compares this music to Tribe Called Quest which is an interesting comparison. Q-Tip was one of the first cool rappers to appeal directly to women in verses without sounding corny. Q-Tip would love the pulsating conversational Home Alone where he’s able to specify breakfast while sounding evocative “I like toast in the morning, you need to know that in case you close in the morning.”

West Coast hip hop can seem like the movie 300 from far away. If you go straight from Ice T to Jay Rock (no shots I own everything by both those dudes); which is what makes From The Westside with Love so cool its filled with trunk rattling funk and love. Loving recollections of hearing Run-DMC for the first time, loving shout outs to Leimert Park where he’s from and all the women who have sex with him. Which I appreciate; too often rappers run down the people who have sex with them. Dom sends out love like he doesn’t have time to hate and its infectious.

Stream or Download From The Westside with Love below:

Stay tuned next week keyboard Jedi as part 2 of my Dom Kennedy breakdown continues!!!!!!

Song Review-Bompton by YG produced by DJ Mustard

Song Review-Bompton by YG produced by DJ Mustard

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-RIYI3z2xs

by Dan-O

This sounds worse than it is but a lot of music people simply thought of YG as an appendage of DJ Mustard. He can organize the Mustard sound with his energy and flow but without it he’s ok at best. This all changed with his album My Krazy Life which dropped not too long ago and is filled with personal revelations that fit alongside its bangers (and great guest stars ranging from Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, even Drake does well). It has one of the very best Mother dedications in years (Sorry Momma) but it also gives the Mustard heads what they wanted which is ratchet @$$ ish like this. While Mustard is not the only purveyor of this sound he’s out in front of the movement (until people learn how dope Rick Rock is). While others like The League of Starz seem to experiment with levels of their sound Mustard seems to be refining its gorgeous singularity. Not worried if you are sick of Ratchet cause his beats will be so perfectly ratchet that you will still love them.

Why does YG call it Bompton? Blood way to say Compton, don’t worry about it. Feel free to bounce with the intensity of this tracks wobble and bathe in the fear and desperation of the Compton attitude again. This is the kind of anthemic track you can picture crowds yelling along with. Two of this year’s best rap albums are Compton introspections and the year is young. America never stopped loving the horror and intensity of Compton hip hop. What we sometimes don’t realize is that the world never did either.